By Megan Hickey

CHICAGO (CBS) — For months, CBS 2 has been investigating growing delays for firearm owner identification cards during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the Illinois State Police are finally acknowledging the reporting.

ISP’s director is now calling the system “antiquated, outdated and inefficient.”

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He said the state police would need help from lawmakers to streamline the system, which has become overwhelmed during the pandemic. While it should take just 30 days, the average time for processing a FOID card application is 121 days. The average time for a concealed carry license is 145 days.

But CBS 2 has talked to applicants who have waited much longer than that.

“But I think the thing that really rung true for me was the lack of communication. I just had heard absolutely nothing from them as far as what the status is what is the delay what’s happening,” said FOID card applicant Rick Muermann.

ISP said for years the Firearm Services Fund was neglected. Then the pandemic brought a 167% increase in applications and not enough employees to process them, so the problem just got worse.

“It should have been in February that I should have got it back, but it should have been before — in January,” said Kevin Mick, who is trying to renew is FOID card.

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According to ISP, 21 firearms eligibility analysts have been hired since March 2020, and 11 others are set to start in January. They have also made other system updates, including updates to the call center.

But they have found redundancies in the system. ISP’s director now says they cannot overhaul it without the support of the General Assembly.

Over the last decade the number of FOID card holders has grown from 1.2 million 2.2 million in the state of Illinois.

ISP said they have provided detailed briefings to the Illinois General Assembly Restore Illinois Commission and other policy makers.

CBS 2 reached out to the cochairs for a comment, but was still awaiting a response at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

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Megan Hickey